John 14:2
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) In my Father’s house are many mansions.—The Greek word used for “house” here is slightly different from that used of the material temple on earth in John 2:16. The exact meaning will be at once seen from a comparison of 2Corinthians 5:1, the only other passage in the New Testament where it is used metaphorically. The Jews were accustomed to the thought of heaven as the habitation of God; and the disciples had been taught to pray, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” (Comp. Psalm 23:6; Isaiah 63:15; Matthew 6:9; Acts 7:49; and especially Hebrews 9)

The Greek word for “mansions” occurs again in the New Testament only in John 14:23, where it is rendered abode.” Wiclif and the Geneva version read “dwellings.” It is found in the Greek of the Old Testament only in 1 Maccabees 7:38 (“Suffer them not to continue any longer”—“give them not an abode”). Our translators here followed the Vulgate, which has “mansiones “with the exact meaning of the Greek, that is; “resting-places,” “dwellings.” In Elizabethan English the word meant no more than this, and it now means no more in French or in the English of the North. A maison or a manse, is not necessarily a modern English mansion. It should also be noted that the Greek word is the substantive answering to the verb which is rendered “dwelleth” in John 14:10, and “abide” in John 15:4-10. (see Note there).

“Many” is not to be understood, as it often has been, simply or chiefly of different degrees of happiness in heaven. Happiness depends upon the mind which receives it, and must always exist, therefore, in varying degrees, but this is not the prominent thought expressed here, though it may be implied. The words refer rather to the extent of the Father’s house, in which there should be abiding-places for all. There would be no risk of that house being overcrowded like the caravanserai at Bethlehem, or like those in which the Passover pilgrims, as at this very time, found shelter at Jerusalem. Though Peter could not follow Him now, he should hereafter (John 13:36); and for all who shall follow Him there shall be homes.

If it were not so, I would have told you.—These words are not without difficulty, but the simplest, and probably truest, meaning is obtained by reading them as our version does. They become then an appeal to our Lord’s perfect candour in dealing with the disciples. He had revealed to them a Father and a house. That revelation implies a home for all. Were there not “many mansions” the fulness of His teaching could have had no place. Had there been limitations He must have marked them out.

I go to prepare a place for you.—The better MSS. read, “For I . . ,” connecting the clause with the earlier part of the verse. He is going away to prepare a place for them; and this also proves the existence of the home. There is to be then no separation; He is to enter within the veil, but it is to be as Forerunner on our behalf (Hebrews 6:20). “When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.”

John

THE FORERUNNER

‘MANY MANSIONS’

John 14:2
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Sorrow needs simple words for its consolation; and simple words are the best clothing for the largest truths. These eleven poor men were crushed and desolate at the thought of Christ’s going; they fancied that if He left them they lost Him. And so, in simple, childlike words, which the weakest could grasp, and in which the most troubled could find peace, He said to them, after having encouraged their trust in Him, ‘There is plenty of room for you as well as for Me where I am going; and the frankness of our intercourse in the past might make you sure that if I were going to leave you I would have told you all about it. Did I ever hide from you anything that was painful? Did I ever allure you to follow Me by false promises? Should I have kept silence about it if our separation was to be eternal?’ So, simply, as a mother might hush her babe upon her breast, He soothes their sorrow. And yet, in the quiet words, so level to the lowest apprehension, there lie great truths, far deeper than we yet have appreciated, and which will enfold themselves in their majesty and their greatness through eternity. ‘In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.’

I. Now note in these words, first, the ‘Father’s house,’ and its ample room.

There is only one other occasion recorded in which our Lord used this expression, and it occurs in this same Gospel near the beginning; where in the narrative of the first cleansing of the Temple we read that He said, ‘Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’ The earlier use of the words may help to throw light upon one aspect of this latter employment of it, for there blend in the image the two ideas of what I may call domestic familiarity, and of that great future as being the reality of which the earthly Temple was intended to be the dim prophecy and shadow. Its courts, its many chambers, its ample porches with room for thronging worshippers, represented in some poor way the wide sweep and space of that higher house; and the sense of Sonship, which drew the Boy to His Father’s house in the earliest hours of conscious childhood, speaks here.

Think for a moment of how sweet and familiar the conception of heaven as the Father’s house makes it to us. There is something awful, even to the best and holiest souls, in the thought of even the glories beyond. The circumstances of death, which is its portal, our utter unacquaintance with all that lies behind the veil, the terrible silence and distance which falls upon our dearest ones as they are sucked into the cloud, all tend to make us feel that there is much that is solemn and awful even in the thought of eternal future blessedness. But how it is all softened when we say, ‘My Father’s house.’ Most of us have long since left behind us the sweet security, the sense of the absence of all responsibility, the assurance of defence and provision, which used to be ours when we lived as children in a father’s house here. But we may all look forward to the renewal, in far nobler form, of these early days, when the father’s house meant the inexpugnable fortress where no evil could befall us, the abundant home where all wants were supplied, and where the shyest and timidest child could feel at ease and secure. It is all coming again, brother, and amidst the august and unimaginable glories of that future the old feeling of being little children, nestling safe in the Father’s house, will fill our quiet hearts once more.

And then consider how the conception of that Future as the Father’s house suggests answers to so many of our questions about the relationship of the inmates to one another. Are they to dwell isolated in their several mansions? Is that the way in which children in a home dwell with each other? Surely if He be the Father, and heaven be His house, the relation of the redeemed to one another must have in it more than all the sweet familiarity and unrestrained frankness which subsists in the families of earth. A solitary heaven would be but half a heaven, and would ill correspond with the hopes that inevitably spring from the representation of it as ‘my Father’s house.’

But consider further that this great and tender name for heaven has its deepest meaning in the conception of it as a spiritual state of which the essential elements are the loving manifestation and presence of God as Father, the perfect consciousness of sonship, the happy union of all the children in one great family, and the derivation of all their blessedness from their Elder Brother.

The earthly Temple, to which there is some allusion in this great metaphor, was the place in which the divine glory was manifested to seeking souls, though in symbol, yet also in reality, and the representation of our text blends the two ideas of the free, frank intercourse of the home and of the magnificent revelations of the Holy of holies. Under either aspect of the phrase, whether we think of ‘my Father’s house’ as temple or as home, it sets before us, as the main blessedness and glory of heaven, the vision of the Father, the consciousness of sonship, and the complete union with Him. There are many subsidiary and more outward blessednesses and glories which shine dimly through the haze of metaphors and negations, by which alone a state of which we have no experience can be revealed to us; but these are secondary. The heaven of heaven is the possession of God the Father through the Son in the expanding spirits of His sons. The sovereign and filial position which Jesus Christ in His manhood occupies in that higher house, and which He shares with all those who by Him have received the adoption of sons, is the very heart and nerve of this great metaphor.

But I think we must go a step further than that, and recognise that in the image there is inherent the teaching that that glorious future is not merely a state, but also a place. Local associations are not to be divorced from the words; and although we can say but little about such a matter, yet everything in the teaching of Scripture points to the thought that howsoever true it may be that the essence of heaven is condition, yet that also heaven has a local habitation, and is a place in the great universe of God. Jesus Christ has at this moment a human body, glorified. That body, as Scripture teaches us, is somewhere, and where He is there shall also His servant be. In the context He goes on to tell us that ‘He goes to prepare a place for us,’ and though I would not insist upon the literal interpretation of such words, yet distinctly the drift of the representation is in the direction of localising, though not of materialising, the abode of the blessed. So I think we can say, not merely that what He is that shall also His servants be, but that where He is there shall also His servants be. And from the representation of my text, though we cannot fathom all its depths, we can at least grasp this, which gives solidity and reality to our contemplations of the future, that heaven is a place, full of all sweet security and homelike repose, where God is made known in every heart and to every consciousness as a loving Father, and of which all the inhabitants are knit together in the frankest fraternal intercourse, conscious of the Father’s love, and rejoicing in the abundant provisions of His royal House.

And then there is a second thought to be suggested from these words, and that is of the ample room in this great house. The original purpose of the words of my text, as I have already reminded you, was simply to soothe the fears of a handful of disciples.

There was room where Christ went for eleven poor men. Yes, room enough for them! but Christ’s prescient eye looked down the ages, and saw all the unborn millions that would yet be drawn to Him uplifted on the Cross, and some glow of satisfaction flitted across His sorrow, as He saw from afar the result of the impending travail of His soul in the multitudes by whom God’s heavenly house should yet be filled. ‘Many mansions!’ the thought widens out far beyond our grasp. Perhaps that upper room, like most of the roof-chambers in Jewish houses, was open to the skies, and whilst He spoke, the innumerable lights that blaze in that clear heaven shone down upon them, and He may have pointed to these. The better Abraham perhaps looked forth, like His prototype, on the starry heavens, and saw in the vision of the future those who through Him should receive the ‘adoption of sons’ and dwell for ever in the house of the Lord, ‘so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable.’

Ah! brethren, if we could only widen our measurement of the walls of the New Jerusalem to the measurement of that ‘golden rod which the man, that is the angel,’ as John says, applied to it, we should understand how much bigger it is than any of these poor sects and communities of ours here on earth. If we would lay to heart, as we ought to do, the deep meaning of that indefinite ‘many’ in my text, it would rebuke our narrowness. There will be a great many occupants of the mansions in heaven that Christian men here on earth-the most Catholic of them-will be very much surprised to see there, and thousands will find their entrance there that never found their entrance into any communities of so-called Christians here on earth.

That one word ‘many’ should deepen our confidence in the triumphs of Christ’s Cross, and it may be used to heighten our own confidence as to our own poor selves. A chamber in the great Temple waits for each of us, and the question is, Shall we occupy it, or shall we not? The old Rabbis had a tradition which, like a great many of their apparently foolish sayings, covers in picturesque guise a very deep truth. They said that, however many the throngs of worshippers who came up to Jerusalem at the passover, the streets of the city and the courts of the sanctuary were never crowded. And so it is with that great city. There is room for all. There are throngs, but no crowds. Each finds a place in the ample sweep of the Father’s house, like some of the great palaces that barbaric Eastern kings used to build, in whose courts armies might encamp, and the chambers of which were counted by the thousand. And surely in all that ample accommodation, you and I may find some corner where we, if we will, may lodge for evermore.

I do not dwell upon subsidiary ideas that may be drawn from the expressions. ‘Mansions’ means places of permanent abode, and suggests the two thoughts, so sweet to travellers and toilers in this fleeting, labouring life, of unchangeableness and of repose. Some have supposed that the variety in the attainments of the redeemed, which is reasonable and scriptural, might be deduced from our text, but that does not seem to be relevant to our Lord’s purpose.

One other suggestion may be made without enlarging upon it. There is only one other occasion in this Gospel in which the word here translated ‘mansions’ is employed, and it is this: ‘We will come and make our abode with him.’ Our mansion is in God; God’s dwelling-place is in us. So ask yourselves, Have you a place in that heavenly home? When prodigal children go away from the father’s house, sometimes a broken-hearted parent will keep the boy’s room just as it used to be when he was young and pure, and will hope and weary through long days for him to come back and occupy it again. God is keeping a room for you in His house; do you see that you fill it.

II. In the next place, note here the sufficiency of Christ’s revelation for our needs.

‘If it were not so I would have told you.’ He sets Himself forward in very august fashion as being the Revealer and Opener of that house for us. There is a singular tone about all our Lord’s few references to the future-a tone of decisiveness; not as if He were speaking, as a man might do, that which he had thought out, or which had come to him, but as if He was speaking of what he had Himself beheld, ‘We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen.’ He stands like one on a mountain top, looking down into the valleys beyond, and telling His comrades in the plain behind Him what He sees. He speaks of that unseen world always as One who had been in it, and who was reporting experiences, and not giving forth opinions. His knowledge was the knowledge of One who dwelt with the Father, and left the house in order to find and bring back His wandering brethren. It was ‘His own calm home, His habitation from eternity,’ and therefore He could tell us with decisiveness, with simplicity, with assurance, all which we need to know about the geography of that unknown land-the plan of that, by us unvisited, house. Very remarkable, therefore, is it, that with this tone there should be such reticence in Christ’s references to the future. The text implies the rationale of such reticence. ‘If it were not so I would have told you.’ I tell you all that you need, though I tell you a great deal less than you sometimes wish.

The gaps in our knowledge of the future, seeing that we have such a Revealer as we have in Christ, are remarkable. But my text suggests this to us-we have as much as we need. I know, and many of you know, by bitter experience, how many questions, the answers to which would seem to us to be such a lightening of our burdens, our desolated and troubled hearts suggest about that future, and how vainly we ply heaven with questions and interrogate the unreplying Oracle. But we know as much as we need. We know that God is there. We know that it is the Father’s house. We know that Christ is in it. We know that the dwellers there are a family. We know that sweet security and ample provision are there; and, for the rest, if we I needed to have heard more, He would have told us.

‘My knowledge of that life is small,

The eye of faith is dim;

But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all;

And I shall be with Him.’

Let the gaps remain. The gaps are part of the revelation, and we know enough for faith and hope.

May we not widen the application of that thought to other matters than to our bounded and fragmentary conceptions of a future life? In times like the present, of doubt and unrest, it is a great piece of Christian wisdom to recognise the limitations of our knowledge and the sufficiency of the fragments that we have. What do we get a revelation for? To solve theological puzzles and dogmatic difficulties? to inflate us with the pride of quasi-omniscience? or to present to us God in Christ for faith, for love, for obedience, for imitation? Surely the latter, and for such purposes we have enough.

So let us recognise that our knowledge is very partial. A great stretch of wall is blank, and there is not a window in it. If there had been need for one, it would have been struck out. He has been pleased to leave many things obscure, not arbitrarily, so as to try our faith-for the implication of the words before us is that the relation between Him and us binds Him to the utmost possible frankness, and that all which we need and He can tell us He does tell-but for high reasons, and because of the very conditions of our present environment, which forbid the more complete and all-round knowledge.

So let us recognise our limitations. We know in part, and we are wise if we affirm in part. Hold by the Central Light, which is Jesus Christ. ‘Many things did Jesus which are not written in this book,’ and many gaps and deficiencies from a human point of view exist in the contexture of revelation. ‘But these are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ,’ for which enough has been told us, ‘and that, believing, ye may have life in His name.’ If that purpose be accomplished in us, God will not have spoken, nor we have heard, in vain. Let us hold by the Central Light, and then the circumference of darkness will gradually retreat, and a wider sphere of illumination be ours, until the day when we enter our mansion in the Father’s house, and then ‘in Thy Light shall we see light’; and we shall ‘know even as we are known.’

Let your Elder Brother lead you back, dear friend, to the Father’s bosom, and be sure that if you trust Him and listen to Him, you will know enough on earth to turn earth into a foretaste of Heaven, and will find at last your place in the Father’s house beside the Brother who has prepared it for you.John 14:2-4. In my Father’s house — From whence I came, whither I am going, and to which place I am conducting you; are many mansions — or apartments (he alludes to the palaces of kings) sufficient to receive the holy angels, your predecessors in the faith, and all that now believe, or shall hereafter believe, even a great multitude, which no man can number. Our Lord means by the expression, different states of felicity in which men shall be placed, according to their progress in faith and holiness. If it were not so — If there were no state of felicity hereafter, into which good men are to be received at death, I would have told you so, and not have permitted you to impose upon yourselves by a vain expectation of what shall never exist; much less would I have said so much as I have done to confirm that expectation: but as it is in itself a glorious reality, so I am now going, not only to receive my own reward, but to prepare a place for you there. By passing into the heavens, as your great High-Priest, through the merit of my sacrifice, and by appearing in the presence of God as your Advocate and Intercessor, I shall procure for you an entrance into that place, which otherwise would have been inaccessible to you. And if I then go and prepare a place for you — You may depend upon it that this preparation shall not be in vain; but that I will certainly act so consistent a part as to come again and receive you to myself, that where I am — And shall for ever be; ye — After a short separation; may be also — To dwell for ever with me, and partake in my felicity. And — Surely I may say in the general, after all the instructions I have given you; that whither I go ye know, &c. — That ye cannot but know the place to which I am going, and the way that leads to it; for I have told you both plainly enough.14:1-11 Here are three words, upon any of which stress may be laid. Upon the word troubled. Be not cast down and disquieted. The word heart. Let your heart be kept with full trust in God. The word your. However others are overwhelmed with the sorrows of this present time, be not you so. Christ's disciples, more than others, should keep their minds quiet, when everything else is unquiet. Here is the remedy against this trouble of mind, Believe. By believing in Christ as the Mediator between God and man, we gain comfort. The happiness of heaven is spoken of as in a father's house. There are many mansions, for there are many sons to be brought to glory. Mansions are lasting dwellings. Christ will be the Finisher of that of which he is the Author or Beginner; if he have prepared the place for us, he will prepare us for it. Christ is the sinner's Way to the Father and to heaven, in his person as God manifest in the flesh, in his atoning sacrifice, and as our Advocate. He is the Truth, as fulfilling all the prophecies of a Saviour; believing which, sinners come by him the Way. He is the Life, by whose life-giving Spirit the dead in sin are quickened. Nor can any man draw nigh God as a Father, who is not quickened by Him as the Life, and taught by Him as the Truth, to come by Him as the Way. By Christ, as the Way, our prayers go to God, and his blessings come to us; this is the Way that leads to rest, the good old Way. He is the Resurrection and the Life. All that saw Christ by faith, saw the Father in Him. In the light of Christ's doctrine, they saw God as the Father of lights; and in Christ's miracles, they saw God as the God of power. The holiness of God shone in the spotless purity of Christ's life. We are to believe the revelation of God to man in Christ; for the works of the Redeemer show forth his own glory, and God in him.In my Father's house - Most interpreters understand this of heaven, as the special dwelling-place or palace of God; but it may include the universe, as the abode of the omnipresent God.

Are many mansions - The word rendered "mansions" means either the act of dwelling in any place (John 14:23, "we will make our abode with him"), or it means the place where one dwells. It is taken from the verb to remain, and signifies the place where one dwells or remains. It is applied by the Greek writers to the tents or temporary habitations which soldiers pitch in their marches. It denotes a dwelling of less permanency than the word house. It is commonly understood as affirming that in heaven there is ample room to receive all who will come; that therefore the disciples might be sure that they would not be excluded. Some have understood it as affirming that there will be different grades in the joys of heaven; that some of the mansions of the saints will be nearer to God than others, agreeably to 1 Corinthians 15:40-41. But perhaps this passage may have a meaning which has not occurred to interpreters.

Jesus was consoling his disciples, who were affected with grief at the idea of his separation. To comfort them he addresses them in this language: "The universe is the dwelling-place of my Father. All is his house. Whether on earth or in heaven, we are still in his habitation. In that vast abode of God there are many mansions. The earth is one of them, heaven is another. Whether here or there, we are still in the house, in one of the mansions of our Father, in one of the apartments of his vast abode. This we ought continually to feel, and to rejoice that we are permitted to occupy any part of his dwelling-place. Nor does it differ much whether we are in this mansion or another. It should not be a matter of grief when we are called to pass from one part of this vast habitation of God to another. I am indeed about to leave you, but I am going only to another part of the vast dwelling-place of God. I shall still be in the same universal habitation with you; still in the house of the same God; and am going for an important purpose - to fit up another abode for your eternal dwelling." If this be the meaning, then there is in the discourse true consolation. We see that the death of a Christian is not to be dreaded, nor is it an event over which we should immoderately weep. It is but removing from one apartment of God's universal dwelling-place to another - one where we shall still be in his house, and still feel the same interest in all that pertains to his kingdom. And especially the removal of the Saviour from the earth was an event over which Christians should rejoice, for he is still in the house of God, and still preparing mansions of rest for His people.

If it were not so ... - I have concealed from you no truth. You have been cherishing this hope of a future abode with God. Had it been ill founded I would have told you plainly, as I have told you other things. Had any of you been deceived, as Judas was, I would have made it known to you, as I did to him."

I go to prepare a place for you - By his going is meant his death and ascent to heaven. The figure here is taken from one who is on a journey, who goes before his companions to provide a place to lodge in, and to make the necessary preparations for their entertainment. It evidently means that he, by the work he was yet to perform in heaven, would secure their admission there, and obtain for them the blessings of eternal life. That work would consist mainly in his intercession, Hebrews 10:12-13, Hebrews 10:19-22; Hebrews 7:25-27; Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 4:16.

That where I am - This language could be used by no one who was not then in the place of which he was speaking, and it is just such language as one would naturally use who was both God and man - in reference to his human nature, speaking of his going to his Father; and in reference to his divine nature, speaking as if he was then with God.

Ye may be also - This was language eminently fitted to comfort them. Though about to leave them, yet he would not always be absent. He would come again at the day of judgment and gather all his friends to himself, and they should be ever with him, Hebrews 9:28. So shall all Christians be with him. And so, when we part with a beloved Christian friend by death, we may feel assured that the separation will not be eternal. We shall meet again, and dwell in a place where there shall be no more separation and no more tears.

2. In my Father's house are many mansions—and so room for all, and a place for each.

if not, I would have told you—that is, I would tell you so at once; I would not deceive you.

I go to prepare a place for you—to obtain for you a right to be there, and to possess your "place."

Our Lord’s first argument brought to comfort them, from the place whither he was going, and the end of his going thither. The place whither he was going was his

Father’s house, so as they needed not to be troubled for him, he was but going home; nor was God his Father only, but theirs also, as he afterwards saith, I go to my Father, and your Father. And here he tells them, that in his Father’s house there was not only a mansion, that is, an abiding place for him, but for many others also.

Our days on the earth (saith David, 1 Chronicles 29:15) are as a shadow, and there is no abiding; but in heaven there are monai, abiding places. We shall (saith the apostle, 1 Thessalonians 4:17) be ever with the Lord. And the mansions there are many; there is room enough for all believers. I would not have deceived you; if there had been no place in heaven but for me, I would have told you of it; but there are many mansions there.

I go to prepare a place for you: the place was prepared of old; those who shall be saved, were of old ordained unto life. That kingdom was prepared for them before the foundation of the world; that is, in the counsels and immutable purpose of God. These mansions for believers in heaven were to be sprinkled with blood: the sprinkling of the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry, were typical of it; but the heaven things themselves with better sacrifices than these, saith the apostle, Hebrews 9:21,23. By his resurrection from the dead, and becoming the first fruits of those that sleep; by his ascension into heaven, as our forerunner, Hebrews 6:20; by his sitting at the right hand of God, and making intercession for us; he prepares for us a place in heaven. And thus he comforteth his disciples, (as to the want of his bodily presence), as from the consideration of the place whither he went, so from the end of his going thither, which was, to do those acts which were necessary in order to His disciples’ inheriting those blessed mansions which were prepared for them from before the foundation of the world. In my Father's house are many mansions,.... This he says to draw off their minds from an earthly kingdom to an heavenly one; to point out the place to them whither he was going, and to support them with the views and hopes of glory under all their troubles. By his "Father's house" is meant heaven; see 2 Corinthians 5:1; which is of his Father's building, where he has, and will have all his family. This Christ says partly to reconcile the minds of his disciples to his departure from them, and partly to strengthen their hope of following him thither; since it was his Father's, and their Father's house whither he was going, and in which "are many mansions"; abiding or dwelling places; mansions of love, peace, joy, and rest, which always remain: and there are "many" of them, which does not design different degrees of glory; for since the saints are all loved with the same love, bought with the same price, justified with the same righteousness, and are equally the sons of God, their glory will be the same. But, it denotes fulness and sufficiency of room for all his people; for the many ordained to eternal life, for whom Christ gave his life a ransom, and whose blood is shed for the remission of their sins, whose sins he bore, and whom he justifies by his knowledge; who receive him by faith, and are the many sons he will bring to glory. And this is said for the comfort of the disciples who might be assured from hence, that there would be room not only for himself and Peter, whom he had promised should follow him hereafter, but for them all. Very agreeable to this way of speaking are many things in the Jewish writings:

"says R. Isaack (o), how many , "mansions upon mansions", are there for the righteous in that world? and the uppermost mansion of them all is the love of their Lord.''

Moreover, they say (p), that

"in the world to come every righteous man shall have "a mansion", to himself.''

Sometimes they (q) speak of "seven mansions" (a number of perfection) being prepared for the righteous in the other world, though entirely ignorant of the person by whom these mansions are prepared: who here says,

if it were not so, I, would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. This expresses the certainty of it, that his Father had a house, and in it were many mansions, room enough for all his people, or he would have informed them otherwise, who must needs know the truth of these things, since he came from thence; and who never deceives with vain hopes of glory; and whatever he says is truth, and to be depended on; everything he here delivers; both what he said before, and also what follows: "I go to prepare a place for you"; heaven is a kingdom prepared by the Father for his saints, from the foundation of the world; and again, by the presence and intercession of Christ, who is gone before, and is as a forerunner entered into it, and has took possession of it in the name of his people; and by his own appearance there for them with his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, he is, as it were, fitting up these mansions for their reception, whilst they are by his Spirit and grace fitting and preparing for the enjoyment of them.

(o) Zohar in Deut. fol. 113. 1.((p) Praefat ad Sepher Raziel, fol. 2. 1. Nishmat Chayim, fol. 26. 2. & 27. 1.((q) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 1. Nishmat Chayim, fol. 32. 2. Midrash Tillim in Galatin. l. 12. c. 6.

In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, {a} I would have told you. I go to {b} prepare a place for you.

(a) That is, if it were not as I am telling you, that is, unless there was room enough not only for me, but also for you in my Father's house, I would not deceive you in this way with a vain hope, but I would have plainly told you so.

(b) This whole speech is an allegory, by which the Lord comforts his own, declaring to them his departure into heaven; and he departs not to reign there alone, but to go before and prepare a place for them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 14:2-3 serve to arouse the πιστεύειν demanded in John 14:1, to which a prospect so blessed lies open. In the house of my Father are many places of sojourn, many shall find their abiding-place (μονή only here and in John 14:23 in the N. T.; frequent in the classics, comp. also 1Ma 7:38), so that such therefore is not wanting to you also; but if this were not the case I would have told you (“ademissem vobis spem inanem,” Grotius). After εἶπον ἂν ὑμῖν a full stop must be placed, and with ὅτι (see critical notes) πορεύομαι a new sentence begins. So, first Valla, then Beza, Calvin, Casaubon, Aretius, Grotius, Jansen, and many others, including Kuinoel, Lücke, Tholuck, Olshausen, B. Crusius, De Wette,[140] Maier, Hengstenberg, Godet, Lachmann, Tischendorf. But the Fathers of the church, Erasmus, Luther, Castalio, Wolf, Maldonatus, Bengel, and many others, including Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 464, and Ebrard, refer εἶπον ἂν ὑμῖν to what follows: if it were not so, then I would have said to you: I go, etc. Against this John 14:3 is decisive, according to which Jesus actually says that He is going away, and is preparing a place.[141] Others take it as a question, where, however, we are not, on account of the aorist εἶπον, to explain: would I indeed say to you: I go, etc. (Mosheim, Ernesti, Beck in the Stud. u. Krit. 1831, p. 130 ff.)? but: would I indeed have said to you, etc.? In this way there would neither be intended an earlier saying not preserved in the Gospel (Ewald),[142] possibly with the stamp of a gloss on it (Weizsäcker), or a reference to the earlier sayings regarding the passage into the heavenly world (Lange). But for the latter explanation the saying in the present passage is too definite and peculiar; while the former amounts simply to an hypothesis which is neither necessary nor capable of support on other grounds.

The ΟἸΚΊΑ ΤΟῦ ΠΑΤΡΌς is not heaven generally, but the peculiar dwelling-place of the divine δόξα in heaven, the place of His glorious throne (Psalm 2:4; Psalm 33:13-14; Isaiah 63:15, et al.), viewed, after the analogy of the temple in Jerusalem, this earthly οἶκος τοῦ πατρός (John 2:16), as a heavenly sanctuary (Isaiah 57:15). Comp. Hebrews 9

ΠΟΛΛΑΊ] ἹΚΑΝΑῚ ΔΈΞΑΣΘΑΙ ΚΑῚ ὙΜᾶς, Euth. Zigabenus. The conception of different degrees of blessedness (Augustine and several others) lies entirely remote from the meaning here; for many the house of God is destined and established, and that already ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, Matthew 25:34.

ὍΤΙ ΠΟΡΕΎΟΜΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ.] for I go, etc., assigns the reason of the assurance: ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳπολλαί εἰσιν, so that ΕἸ ΔῈ ΜῊ, ΕἾΠΟΝ ἊΝ ὙΜῖΝ is to be regarded as logically inserted. The ΠΟΡΕΎΟΜΑΙ ἙΤΟΙΜΆΣΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ., however, is an actual proof of the existence of the ΜΟΝΑῚ ΠΟΛΛΑΊ in the heavenly house of God (not of the ΕἾΠΟΝ ἊΝ ὙΜῖΝ, as Luthardt thinks, placing only a colon after ὙΜῖΝ), because otherwise Jesus could not go away with the design of getting prepared for them in those ΜΟΝΑΊ a place on which they are thereafter to enter, a place for them. This ἙΤΟΙΜΆΖΕΙΝ ΤΌΠΟΝ presupposes ΜΟΝᾺς ΠΟΛΛΆς, in which the dwelling-place to be provided must exist. The idea is, further (comp. the idea of the ΠΡΌΔΡΟΜΟς, Hebrews 6:20), that He having attained by His death to the fellowship of the divine ΔΌΞΑ, purposes to prepare the way for their future ΣΥΝΔΟΞΑΣΘῆΝΑΙ with God (comp. John 17:24); but “therefore He speaks with them in the simplest possible, as it were, childlike fashion, according to their thoughts, as is necessary to attract and allure simple people,” Luther.

John 14:3. ΚΑῚ ἘᾺΝΤΌΠΟΝ] Emphatic repetition of the consolatory words, with which the still more consolatory promise is united: I will come again, and will (then) receive you to myself. Jesus says, καὶ ἐάν, not Κ. ὍΤΑΝ, for He will not mention the point of time of His return, but what consequences (namely, the πάλιν ἔρχομαι, κ.τ.λ.) will be connected with this departure of His, and preparation of a place of which He had just given them assurance. The ΠΟΡΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ Κ. ἙΤΟΙΜ, Κ.Τ.Λ., is the conditioning fact which, if it shall take place, has the ΠΆΛΙΝ ἜΡΧΕΣΘΑΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ., as its happy consequence. Comp. John 12:32. The nearness or remoteness of the appearance of this result remains undefined by ἘΆΝ. Comp. Düsterdieck on 1 John 2:28, where the reading ὍΤΑΝ is an alteration proceeding from clumsy copyists.

By ΠΆΛΙΝ ἜΡΧΟΜΑΙ Jesus means, and that not indefinitely, or with any approach to a spiritual signification (De Wette), but distinctly and clearly, His Parousia at the last day (John 6:39-40, John 11:24), and not His resurrection (Ebrard), to which the following κ. παραλ., κ.τ.λ., is not appropriate. That in John also (comp. 1 John 2:28), and in Jesus, according to John (comp. John 21:22, John 5:28-29), as in the whole apostolic church, the conception existed of the Parousia as near at hand,[143] although, on account of its spiritual character in the Gospel, it steps less into the foreground, see in Kaeuffer, de ζωῆς αἰων. not. p. 131 f., comp. also Frommann, p. 479 f.; Lechler, Apost. und Nachapost. Zeit. p. 224 ff.; Wittichen in the Jahrb.f. D. Th. 1862, p. 357 f.; Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 181. On this His glorious return He will receive the disciples into His personal fellowship (as raised from the dead or transformed respectively), and that as partakers of His divine δόξα in the heavenly sanctuary which has descended with Him to the earth, in which a place will be already prepared for them. He comes in the glory of His Father, and they enter into fellowship with Him in this ΔΌΞΑ in the Messianic kingdom. Comp. Origen and several others, including Calvin, Lampe, Luthardt, Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 194, Hilgenfeld, Brückner, Ewald. The explanation of a coming, only regarded as such more or less improperly, in order to receive the disciples by a blessed death into heaven (Grotius, Kuinoel, B. Crusius, Reuss, Tholuck, Lange, Hengstenberg, and several others), is opposed to the words (comp. John 21:22) and to the mode of expression elsewhere employed in the N. T. respecting the coming of Christ, since death does indeed translate the apostles and martyrs to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8; Php 1:23; Acts 7:59; see on Php 1:26, note); but it is nowhere said of Christ that He comes (in order to be personally present at their dying bed, so Hengstenberg, indeed, thinks) and fetches them to Himself. Except in the Paraclete, Christ first comes in His glory at the Parousia. The interpretation, however (according to John 14:18 ff.), that here “only the spiritual return of Christ to His own, and their reception into the full sacred fellowship of the Spirit of the glorified Christ” (Lücke, Neander, Godet) can be intended (comp. Olshausen, Ebrard), is not to be approved, for the reason that Jesus Himself, John 14:2, has decisively provided beforehand for the words being understood of His actual return, and of local fellowship with Him (in John 14:18 ff. the entire context is different).

πρὸς ἐμαυτόΝ] spoken in the consciousness of the great value which the love of the disciples placed on fellowship with His own person. Only with Himself have faith and love the final object of hope, and their blessed reward[144] in the Father’s house.

[140] He terms the assertion “somewhat naïve.” But it has rather its full weight in the faith presupposed in the disciples, that He cannot leave them uninstructed on any essential point of their hope. Comp. Köstlin, Lehrbegr. p. 163.

[141] This reason is valid, whether we read now in ver. 3 καὶ ἑτοιμάσω, or with Lachmann merely ἑτοιμάσω: Hofmann follows the latter, and connects therewith, as well as with ἐάν, artificial and laboured departures from the simple sense of the words. Ebrard also adopts a forced and artificial view, according to which ἑτοιμάσαι is said to be objective: bring about your presence; but ἑτοιμάσω (without καί) must point to the making accessible for the disciples. How could a listener hit upon this difference of idea in the same word?

[142] He would also place εἰ δὲ μὴτόπον ὑμῖν within a parenthesis, and finds here either a saying out of a now unknown gospel, or rather out of the fragment supposed to have been lost before chap. 6.

[143] However decidedly this is still denied by Scholten, who finds in John only a spiritual coming, in the sense, namely, that the Spirit of Jesus remains. According to Keim (Geschichtl. Chr. p. 45, ed. 3), the fourth Gospel has, “in sufficiently modern fashion, relegated the future kingdom to heaven,” and “broken off the head” of the expectation of the Parousia. But the head is exactly in the present passage.

[144] It is incorrect to maintain that in John the notion of reward is entirely wanting (so Weiss in the Deutsch. ZeitzsChr. 1853, pp. 325, 338, and in his Petr. Lehrbegr. p. 55 f.). As Christ seeks in prayer eternal glory for Himself as a reward, John 17:4-5, so He assigns it to the disciples also as a reward. See John 17:24, John 12:25-26, John 11:26. Here applies also the promise of ἰδεϊν τὴν βασιλ. τοῦ θεοῦ, John 3:3; John 3:5, and the resurrection at the last day, John 5:28-29, John 6:40; John 6:54. Comp. 1 John 3:2-3, where the future transfiguration and union with Christ is expressly designated as the object of ἐλπίς, as well as John 8 where even the expression μισθὸν πλήρη is employed, and is to be understood of eternal blessedness (see Düsterdieck, II. p. 505).John 14:2. As an encouragement to this trust, He adds, ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳὑμῖν. He is going home to His Father’s house, but had there been room in it only for Himself He would necessarily have told them that this was the case, because the very reason of His going was to prepare a place for them, ὅτι assigns the reason for the necessity of explanation: the reason being that His purpose or plan for His future would require to be entirely altered had there been no room for them in His Father’s house. “My Father’s house” is used in John 2:16 of the Temple: here of the immediate presence of the Father and of that condition in which His love and protection are uninterruptedly and directly experienced. This is most naturally thought of as a place, but with the corrective that “it is not in heaven one finds God, but in God one finds heaven”. Cf. Godet. In this house, as in a great palace, cf. Iliad, vi. 242, μοναὶ πολλαί εἰσιν. μονή (μένειν), only here and in John 14:23, means a place to abide in, and was used of a station on a journey, a resting place, quarters for the night, and in later ecclesiastical Greek a monastery. See Soph., Lexicon. “Mansions” reproduces the Vulgate “mansiones”. See further Wright’s Bible Word-Book. εἰ δὲ μὴ … “were it not so, I would have told you,” “ademissem vobis spem inanem,” Grotius. Had there been no such place and no possibility of preparing it, He necessarily would have told them, because the very purpose of His leaving them was to prepare a place for them. ἑτοιμάσαι τόπον, a figure derived from the custom of sending forward one of a party to secure quarters and provide all requisites. Cf. the Alcestis, line 363: ἀλλʼ οὖν ἐκεῖσε προσδόκα μʼ, ὅταν θάνω, καὶ δῶμʼ ἑτοίμαζʼ, ὡς συνοικήσουσά μοι. What was involved in the preparation here spoken of is detailed in Hebrews. Cf. Selby’s Ministry of the Lord, 275.2. In my Father’s house] Heaven. Comp. ‘The Lord’s throne is in heaven,’ Psalm 11:4; ‘Our Father, Which art in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9), &c.

are many mansions] Nothing is said about mansions differing in dignity and beauty. There may be degrees of happiness hereafter, but such are neither expressed nor implied here. What is said is that there are ‘many mansions;’ there is room enough for all. The word for ‘mansions,’ common in classical Greek, occurs in the N.T. only here and John 14:23. It is a substantive from the verb of which S. John is so fond, ‘to abide, dwell, remain’ (see note on John 1:33), which occurs John 14:10; John 14:16-17; John 14:25, and twelve times in the next chapter. This substantive, therefore, means ‘an abode, dwelling, place to remain in.’ ‘Mansion,’ Scotch ‘manse,’ and French ‘maison,’ are all from the Latin form of the same root.

if it were not so, I would have told you] The Greek may have more than one meaning, but our version is best. Christ appeals to His fairness: would He have invited them to a place in which there was not room for all? Others connect this with the next verse; ‘should I have said to you, I go to prepare a place for you?’ or, ‘I would have said to you, I go, &c.’ The latter cannot be right. Christ had already said, and says again, that He is going to shew them the way and to prepare for them (John 13:36, John 14:3).

I go to prepare] We must insert ‘for’ on overwhelming authority; ‘for I go to prepare.’ This proves that there will be room for all.John 14:2. Οἰκίᾳ, house) He shows already whither He is going.—V. g.] A rare appellation of the heavenly habitation: a house of residence, into which are admitted children, and in which the Father dwells. Jesus looks beyond His sufferings to the goal. Comp. Hebrews 12:2, “Who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross;” 2 Timothy 4:7, [so Paul in a dungeon before his martyrdom] “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”—τοῦ Πατρός μου, of My Father) In the beginning of this sermon, Jesus often adds the pronoun to the mention of His Father; but as He gets forward in it, and at its close, after that He has taken precaution to establish His own pre-eminence above believers, and has stirred up the disciples to faith, He speaks as it were more in common, calling God, the Father, namely, Mine, and at the same time also yours.—μοναί, mansions) This refers to place, not to time [places of abode; not times of abode]; and it is said in the plural, on account of the multitude of those whom that common mansion contains.—πολλαί) many, so as to contain angels and your predecessors in the faith, and you, and very many more. By the plural number itself there appears also to be implied a variety of the mansions: for He does not say, a great mansion, but many mansions. Comp. Revelation 21:16, note, “The city lieth four-square,” etc.—εἰσίν, there are) already now, and from the beginning.—εἰ δὲ μή, but if it were not so) If there were not already [many mansions].—εἷπον ἄν) I would tell, or rather, I would have told you. Concerning the pluperfect, comp. ch. John 4:10, note [σὺ ἂν ᾔτησαςκαὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν]. “What would He have told them? This very thing, which follows, πορεύομαι, I go. Parodying [an adaptation of] the very similar passage, ch. John 16:26, illustrates the sentiment here: I have not said to you, that I would prepare a place for you; for already there ARE mansions, and those numerous.—πορεύομαι, I go) to the home of My Father.—ἑτοιμάσαι, to prepare) He does not altogether deny that He prepares the place, with which comp. the following verse, where He Himself affirms it: but each of the two statements mutually qualifies the other. But see, what force there may lie in the order of the words: in John 14:2 it is said, τόπον ὑμῖν, a place for you; in John 14:3, ὑμῖν τόπον, for you a place: the first word in each instance respectively containing the emphasis, as in 1 Corinthians 7:22, note [κληθεὶςἀπελεύθερος,—ἐλεύθερος κληθείς]. The place itself is already prepared: but for you it has yet to be prepared. The one preparation is absolute, the other relative. The beginning of the third verse, καὶ ἐάν, and if, does not depend on εἶπον, I would have told you, but stands by itself.Verse 2. - In my Father's house are many mansions; or, abiding-places, homes of rest and peace and sojourn. "My Father" is the grandest name of all - the Divine fatherhood, as conceived in the consciousness of Jesus and revealed to them. Had not he who dwelt for ever in the bosom of the Father come forth, as he alone could, to reveal "the Father" and what the Father had been to him in the eternities? "My Father's house" is the dwelling-place in which devout believing souls would abide forever (Psalm 23:6; Psalm 90:1). In the vast home filled by my Father's glory and lighted by his smile of recognition and reconciliation, in the high and holy place (Isaiah 63:15; Deuteronomy 26:15), are "many mansions" prepared from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). Heaven is a large place; its possibilities transcend your imagination and exceed your charity. Thoma quotes all the grand hopes which Paul's Epistles and that to the Hebrews contain, that Jesus made heaven and home by his presence there (Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 17), and he supposes that the Johannist put these words into the lips of Jesus. One conclusion forced upon the reader, so far as this passage is concerned, is that there is no reason why this Gospel may not have been written long before the close of the first century. If it were not so; i.e. if there were any doubt about it, if the revelations already made do not avail to prove as much as this, if you have been cherishing nothing better than vain illusions on this subject, I would have told you, for I came forth from God, and know these many mansions well. I would have told you, for all things that I have heard from the Father (up to this time possible for you to receive) I have made known to you. Here surely is a colon, if not a period. Many interpreters, by reason of the ὅτι which Lachmann, Tischendorf, Westcott, and Meyer believe to be the correct reading, link the following sentence in different ways to the preceding; e.g., some say ὅτι is equivalent to "that," and read, "I would have told you that I go, etc.; but against this is the simple statement of Ver. 3, where Jesus proceeds to say that he is going to prepare, etc. Others, translating ὅτι "for," differ as to whether the departure of Jesus and his preparation of a place for his disciples refers to the first or second part of the sentence. Surely the ὅτι, "because" or "for," opens out a new thought based on the whole of that sentence: "Because, seeing if it were not so, I would have told you," because our relations are so close as to have involved on your part this claim on my frankness, for I am going to prepare a place - to make ready one of these many mansions - for you. Over and above the vague mystery of the Father's house, my departure is that of your "Forerunner," and my presence will make a new resting-place - it will localize your home. As you have made ready this guest-chamber for me, I am going to make ready a presence-chamber for you in the heavenly Jerusalem. Lange objects to this view of Lucke, Calvin, and Tholuck, that it involves a diffusion of knowledge and revelation among the disciples, of which there is no proof. This does not seem bettered by another rendering preferred by him, viz. "If it were not so, would I have told you I go to prepare a place for you?" But then this mode of interpretation implies a previous definite instruction as to the part he himself was going to take in the furnishing of the heavenly mansion. Of that most certainly there is no proof. House (οἰκίᾳ)

The dwelling-place. Used primarily of the edifice (Matthew 7:24; Matthew 8:14; Matthew 9:10; Acts 4:34). Of the family or all the persons inhabiting the house (Matthew 12:25; John 4:53; 1 Corinthians 16:15; Matthew 10:13). Of property (Matthew 23:14; Mark 12:40). Here meaning heaven.

Mansions (μοναὶ)

Only here and John 14:23. From μένω to stay or abide. Originally a staying or abiding or delay. Thus Thucydides, of Pausanias: "He settled at Colonae in Troas, and was reported to the Ephors to be negotiating with the Barbarians, and to be staying there (τὴν μονὴν ποιούμενος, Literally, making a stay) for no good purpose" (i., 131). Thence, a staying or abiding-place; an abode. The word mansion has a similar etymology and follows the same course of development, being derived from manere, to remain. Mansio is thus, first, a staying, and then a dwelling-place. A later meaning of both mansio and μονή is a halting-place or station on a journey. Some expositors, as Trench and Westcott, explain the word here according to this later meaning, as indicating the combination of the contrasted notions of progress and repose in the vision of the future. This is quite untenable. The word means here abodes. Compare Homer's description of Priam's palace:

"A palace built with graceful porticoes,

And fifty chambers near each other, walled

With polished stone, the rooms of Priam's sons

And of their wives; and opposite to these

Twelve chambers for his daughters, also near

Each other; and, with polished marble walls,

The sleeping-rooms of Priam's sons-in-law

And their unblemished consorts."

"Iliad," vi., 242-250.

Godet remarks: "The image is derived from those vast oriental palaces, in which there is an abode not only for the sovereign and the heir to the throne, but also for all the sons of the king, however numerous they may be."

continued...

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